When we think of people exercising, we either think of healthy people who want to stay healthy or we think of people who “need” to exercise to lose weight. However, rarely do we think of exercise and the importance of exercise for people who are sick, who are injured and in need of a surgery.

It has been scientifically proven that greater participation in physical activity has consistently been associated with reduced risk of cancer incidence at several sites, including breast and colon cancers. Researchers also believe that physical activities affect hormone levels and immune functions. The latest information shows that higher levels of physical activity are associated with a reduced risk of the cancer coming back, and a longer survival after a cancer diagnosis.

Today we want to talk about the benefits of exercise before surgery and for people who have been diagnosed with a challenging illness.

The more we can do for ourselves physically before surgery, the better off we are:

  • Go Home Quicker.
    Often, there are requirements you need to accomplish before a hospital or surgical center will discharge you. These may include walking a certain length, ascending/descending two or more stairs, and independently using the bathroom. Increased strength and stamina will help your body immediately after surgery.
    (Example: A female client had a myomectomy, she stayed in the hospital for one night and a day later she started slow walking.)
  • Patients who pre-habbed typically need less supervised physical therapy.
    This applies to people who have an injury that required surgery. Pre-hab allows the option for out-patient, post-surgery rehab, rather than residence at an in-patient rehabilitation facility.
    (Example: 75 year old gentleman who had double knee surgery a couple of years ago
  • Exercise increases endorphin levels.
    When you know you have to have surgery or you have been diagnosed with cancer, one can easily feel overwhelmed, depressed, or worried. Working out, particularly with a personal trainer, who provides good motivation, can be a great stress releaser and endorphin level increaser.

The healthier you are going into surgery, the quicker and easier your recovery will be. Don’t stress your body with an overzealous jump into a fitness routine. Follow some simple guidelines:

  • Begin pre-hab at least six weeks prior to your surgery.
    When I work with individuals who have knee- and / or hip-replacement surgery I focus with them on strength training, and aerobic and flexibility exercises.
  • If you’re new to exercise, start slowly. Now is not the time to exacerbate any other conditions or pull a major muscle. A good personal trainer is an ideal guide to ensure you will do exercises correctly, push you where you get in shape without exacerbation.
  • If you are a regular exerciser, consider increasing your workout’s intensity, duration, or frequency. Prepare your body for this upcoming challenge. Be sure this won’t interfere with your injury or condition though. Again, a personal trainer makes the difference here with the proper guidance.